Janis: Little Girl Blue

Definitive portrait of iconic blues belter.

Janis: Little Girl Blue DVD cover

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The all or nothing blitzkrieg of Joplin’s life, artistic vision and singular character are brilliantly captured in Amy Berg’s potent and poignant documentary. Bravery and loneliness are keynotes as the life of Janis – a new kind of self-defined, rocker – comes alive.

Berg gets great access; Janis’s often self-excoriating letters home are sensitively read by Cat Power. Contemporary testimonies from friends, lovers and fellow travellers capture the full extent to which Janis (“a dangerous person to take to a bar,” recalls an early comrade) was loved, troubled and, simply, unforgettable.

Candid drug buddy Sam Gordon, talk show king Dick Cavett, looking haunted by her ghost, are particularly revealing. The archive clips – from opening footage of her meth-driven recreation of Etta James’ Tell Mama to closing scenes of Janis returning to her high school reunion - are stunning.

Brilliantly edited to bring full meaning to the narrative arc of Janis’s life, Little Girl Blue is an important, inspirational account of a devastating talent with a message that still resounds down through the ages.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.